Below you find the publications from the project as well as related research we have done over the past years.


COVID Capitalism: The contested logistics of migrant labour supply chains in the double crisis. Introduction to the Special Issue


Stephan Scheel, Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Nicholas de Genova

Online First:

The introduction to the special issue (SI) lays out the agenda and key concepts of the SI ‘COVID Capitalism: The Contested Logistics of Migrant Labour Supply Chains in the Double Crisis’. The contributions to the SI focus on the reconfiguration of the means and methods of the exploitation of migrant labour during the COVID-19 pandemic and the related reorganisation of contemporary border and migration regimes. They all focus, more or less explicitly, on the adaptation and reorganisation of migrant labour supply chains which were disrupted through the ‘double crisis’ of public health and existing border and mobility regimes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this way, the SI seeks to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of COVID-capitalism, understood as a form of disaster capitalism, in which fractions of capital try to turn the multiple crises implicated by the pandemic into a source of profit. If and how they succeed with these endeavours is, however, not guaranteed from the outset but an empirical question. The study of migrant labour supply chains does thus not only help to develop a more nuanced understanding of disaster capitalism but also contributes to debates on the logistification of migration management.

Epistemic Domination by Data Extraction: Questioning the use of biometrics and mobile phone data analysis in asylum procedures

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 50(9), pp. 2289-2308

Stephan Scheel

Open Access:

In a growing number of destination countries state authorities have started to use various digital devices such as analysis of data captured from mobile phones to verify asylum seekers’ claimed country of origin. This move has prompted some critics to claim that asylum decision-making is increasingly delegated to machines. Based on fieldwork at a reception centre in Germany, this paper mobilises insights from science and technology studies (STS) to develop a framework that allows for more nuanced analyses and modes of critiques of the digitisation of asylum procedures. Rather than thinking human and non-human forms of agency as external to one another in order to juxtapose them in a zero-sum game, I comprehend the introduction of digital technologies as a reconfiguration of existing human-machine configurations. This conception highlights how the use digital technologies enables caseworkers to retain their position as an epistemic authority in asylum decision-making by assembling clues about asylum seekers’ country of origin generated by digital technologies into hard juridical evidence. Subsequently, I develop an alternative critique that focuses on epistemic implications of the digitisation of asylum procedures. I identify a particular version of data colonialism that enables epistemic domination by means of data extraction.

Reinventing the Politics of Knowledge Production in Migration Studies: introduction to the special issue

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 50(9), pp. 2163-2187

Nina Amelung, Stephan Scheel, Rogier van Reekum

Online First:

This special issue (SI) calls for reinventing the politics of knowledge production in migration studies. Academic migration research should make knowledge production an essential part of its research agenda if it wants to remain relevant in the transnational field of migration research. A risk of marginalisation stems from three interrelated tendencies: First, non-academic actors producing authoritative knowledge about migration have proliferated in recent years. Secondly, academic knowledge production is challenged both by counter-knowledge produced by social movements as well as new digital methods and information structures owned by policy-oriented and private actors. Thirdly, academics no longer hold a hegemonic position in the transnational field of migration research. The contributions to this SI interrogate the politics of knowledge production on migration along three lines of inquiry: (1) the enactment of migration as an intelligible object of government through practices of quantification, categorisation and visualisation; (2) the production of control knowledge in border encounters about subjects targeted as migrants and (3) the modes of thought seeking to unknow and re-know migration beyond dominant nation-state centric understandings. This introduction elaborates how the nine articles of the SI intervene in the politics of knowledge production in migration studies along these lines of inquiry.